Toilets around the world are in one word: perplexing!

Toilets around the world are in one word: perplexing!

A Squatty What??? 

There is no doubt you’ll come across some strange bathrooms in your travels around the world. However, the one I fear the most is the SQUATTY POTTY!

This marvel of science requires that you squat on your haunches over a hole in the floor, which means you need to do a balancing act, and at my age, this is not an easy task.

 As a person of a certain age traveling alone, there are some bizarre, overwhelming, and frightening toilets. Of course, you have some modern bathrooms, like the see-through “loo” that you find at England’s Tate Britain Museum. It is considered and viewed as an art exhibit. Just imagine sitting doing your business, and everyone walking by stopping and staring at you. (Now, you can see out, but they cannot see you.)

There are a lot of medical benefits to using a squatty potty. Some studies say squatting prevents and cures hemorrhoids. Just think about all the money you will save on Preparation H! Come to think about my aunt never set on a toilet even in her own home, and she lived to a 106. Something to think about. Come to think about it she could also be mean.

Sail-through toilets in Halong Bay, Vietnam are perfect for those on a boat in the water. No need to dock; you can shimmy out of your boat and pull yourself up through a small hole with splinters into a foul-smelling filthy outhouse. Being a widow of a certain age, I am too old and too fat to shimmy. This is one that I never did use, but I did see them along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

Traveling by myself, bathrooms are crucial. There are passions, pisbak, WCs, thunderboxes, loos, outhouses, and the world’s most sophisticated TOTO and Washlet) toilets found in Japan.

History of Toilet Paper: Newspaper, leaves, corn cobs were all used as TP before Joseph Gayetty in the 1920s invented Toilet Paper it was called Gayetty’s Medicated Aloe Paper” sold in flat sheets.

Wealthy Romans used wool and rosewater, and others used sponge attached to a wooden stick, (tersorium) soaked in a bucket of saltwater. Of course, the most popular was your hand; today, this is still a custom in some countries.

Toilet paper is still today a LUXURY in most countries!

Always carry TP/hand wipes with you. In some countries, if you request a bathroom, you may get a room with a tub and no toilet!

Here are a few things I can share with you from my own personal experiences in traveling around the world:


The Austrians have some beautifully decorated toilet seats. One of my favorite ones is the French sculptor, Rodin’s famous bronze statue, “The Thinker” It also had a message written on it that said, “Important things are best done while seated.” No wonder my late husband was so creative! Beware they have coin-operated stalls do not hold the door open for the next person you will get lock in the stall I know this from experience.


They have what I would call a retro-style coin-operated public toilet alongside the road, which serves as an advertisement board. However, they do have an automatic door; after 15 minutes, it will open wide, whether you are done or not.


One day after an exhausting six-hour land tour, we were all doing the bladder dance. We still had one last stop at Tutankhamun’s Tomb, which was why most of us visited Egypt. As we walked over to the site, we noticed a dilapidated building; we assumed it was a toilet by the stench. We all anxiously headed towards it. In the background, we could hear our tour director shouting, “You don’t have the time to go.” Like good soldiers, we did an about-face and followed her down the steps into the tomb.

Hey, she reminded me of my drill sergeant when I was in Bootcamp in FT Jackson, SC. She scared me too!

So, after viewing the young king’s tomb, we quickly walked up the stone steps into the bright sunlight and headed straight to the dilapidated old, foul-smelling building. It was around 110 degrees that day. We had just toured several tombs, and we were exhausted, hot, thirsty, and had to “go.” Our Egyptologist, who acted as our tour director, the reincarnated camel who, again, was irritated that we stopped to use the toilet, yelled, “You don’t have time to go to the toilet! Get onto the bus!” She left us standing there.

We held our ground until everyone had a chance to go. We didn’t care about privacy; we just needed to go! So, we’re standing in line, and here’s this old man standing up there saying to every one of us, “Pee Pee? Poo Poo?” If you said, “Pee Pee,” he would give you one thin sheet of toilet paper (one Egyptian Pound per sheet), and if you said, “Poo Poo,” you got two sheets.

So, you get your paper and stream in together, and when you get in there, OMG! It had filthy urinals against the wall, and across from them were the stalls. Also, the doors were hanging by one hinge with dirty, non-flushable toilet bowls and no toilet seats; nor did they have running water. YIK! So, you squat down to use it; everybody is doing his or her thing. Doctors, teachers, CEOs, CFOs, and me, the widowed schoolteacher.

We’re all used to privacy, and everybody had to use this room together. It was undignified, and the stench was unbearable, but we didn’t care. As soon as your hiney was off the throne and you try to pull up your undies, an older man with a bucket of water opened the door and started pouring the water in the toilet. It was so bizarre, and it was hysterical.

You must understand the qualifications of the person who will be leading you on tours. As a certified ITMI manager and license tour guide, there is a vast difference in the responsibilities. In this case, we only had an Egyptologist.

In an ideal group tour, you would have a tour manager, tour guide, an Egyptologist, each with different responsibilities and training. 

South Korea: 

The world’s only “Toilet House, Museum, and Theme Park” is in Seoul. This two-story, 4500 square foot see-through toilet bowl house monument of the porcelain god features a glass-enclosed bathroom. With the touch of a button, you can turn the walls opaque for privacy. On the toilet drain tour, as you walk up the staircase to the toilet seat viewing area, soft rainwater washes all your troubles away.


You line up to go through a turnstile. Yes, gentleman, you must wait just like the rest of us. However, ladies, because we sit down, we need to pay more. Men do not get too excited; if you sit down, you also have to pay more. An attendant is standing next to the entrance collecting money before you can go in. (No money? No potty.) In most places, the preferred currency is local. Depending on the exchange rate, it can be expensive. When you go in, you are pleasantly surprised by this perfectly clean bathroom. Some of them have showers. Talk about hygienic. When you walk out, someone is waiting with a bucket and mop. 

One important thing to remember is that many pubs and restaurants throughout Europe have one UNISEX bathroom. Europeans are not bothered by others walking by and seeing them use the toilets. Also, I remember in Costa Rica, where the Taxi driver stops hops out an relieve himself. FYI- Costa Rica has a great hospital and dental facilities and will except most US insurances.

It is essential that when you travel to understand what bathroom facilities, they have available otherwise, you could be not only embarrassed but miserable.

Today, especially after my experiences in Egypt, when I am booking a tour, especially for a group that there are bathrooms, and they are easy to walk to and open. As a tour director, you would be surprised that many tour busses do not have open facilities. 

Today, it is more important than ever to work with a qualified travel professional before you put down a deposit, check out their qualifications. Remember that anyone can put up a website, and you are investing in the future. The best way to find a reputable travel advisor is to go to  (American Society of Travel Advisors) and look for Verified Travel Advisors in this section, you will find our bio’s and know that we are real. We are your advocate, not a sales agent.

Sara Susanne Raney
Expert in Travel Advice & Consulting
Travel Designer for Tripadvisor
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